#blogElul 25: Intend
New Year's Poem 2015 / 5776

#blogElul 26: Create

BlogElul+5776"If you believe you can destroy, believe you can create." That's a quote from the Hasidic master Reb Nachman of Bratzlav. I've been thinking about his words a lot lately.

One of our tradition's ways of imagining God is as the One Who speaks the world into being. A prayer in our liturgy describes God in exactly that way, and I love it, every time I daven it.

I love the idea that not only did God create the universe once upon a time with speech, but God continues to create all things with speech even now. Speech is an inherently creative act.

In every moment, our tradition imagines, God is saying "let there be..." Let there be creation. Let there be a universe. Let there be every atom, every particle, every thing that is.

Torah teaches that we are made in the divine image. One of the ways that's true is that we too can impact the universe with our words. Maybe we can't literally speak things into being, but our words can make a difference. Our words can hurt. (Just ask anyone who's been called a painful name, or who's heard awful news and can't un-hear it...) But it is equally true that our words can create repair.

In these final days of the old year, I'm thinking a lot about the worlds we create with our words. How our words can feel like weapons, and how our words can feel like balm. What are the words I need, in order to repair some of the brokenness around me as the old year draws to its close?

Reb Nachman reminds me that if words can destroy, they can also (re)build. If I believe that words have power to harm, then I also have to believe that words have power to heal. What do I want to create with my words during these final days of 5775?


I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; last year's posts are now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.